I Dig Burying Eva Flores

***Received from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review… needless to say I won’t be keeping any skeletons in my closet***

Gossipy and intriguing, this paranormal YA has the potential to kick up quite the social media storm. With aspects that are hit and miss, it’s one of those books that I reckon will go down like marmite. For me, swept up by the drama and distinct characters in this audiobook, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it.

Instantly grabbed by the tone and the voice, I definitely found the multiple povs, texts and interviews lent themselves to the format. And while the supernatural elements could have detracted from the intense teen-rivalry plotline, they were integrated enough so as not to feel too out of place.  

What was a bit much was the protagonist’s attraction to an older man. Of course this did connect to the wider narrative and I saw the place this dark subplot had in the overarching story- yet it still made me uncomfortable. I get that it’s supposed to be toxic- but I wouldn’t blame anyone for tapping out at that point.

Personally, I was always going to be most invested in the revenge fantasy element- and luckily for me that part worked well. Delightfully dark in the best way, it kept me reaching for the book at every minute of the day!

I also really appreciated the social media aspect (even if the mere mention of Tiktok makes me feel old 😉). This is a novel about fame, authenticity and most importantly of all finding freedom from the constant glare of the camera lens.

Full of WTF moments, twisted charm and an entertaining ending, this story grabbed a hold of me and wouldn’t let me go until it was done.

Rating: 3½/5 bananas

So, have you read this? Do you plan to? And what are your favourite girl-rivalry stories? Let me know in the comments!

Nettle and Bone was DEAD GOOD!

There was a lot of buzz around this book- which hooked me in- though nothing could have prepared me for the magic in store. This standalone fantasy has a sting to it that makes it impossible to forget. It’s an unexpected read, with something special about it.

Entirely original in its world building, it still manages to feel like it’s based in fairy tales. The mythical edge to the narrative carries the plot. I truly felt like I had stepped into a different world, where there’s magic… but that magic comes at a cost.

The concept is simple. It’s about an unmarried going on a quest to save her married sister. Yet that synopsis does not do the story justice. Because this is the kind of novel that is all about the characters. With a not-so-typical cast, Kingfisher establishes characters who feel like real people. The main character isn’t just “almost a nun” and a princess- she’s been formed by these experiences, such that she’s been deprived of an education in the ways that matter. And yet, her charm and determination run deeper than her background. She forms connections in a natural way that endears you to her. And endears you to the other members of her team: from the gravewitch to the knight to the (somewhat wicked) godmother. Oh and a demon chicken… which was a great touch.

Getting down in the dirt, this shows that fairy tales don’t have very pleasant origins. Just because a story has a prince marrying a princess doesn’t mean it’s all happy endings. This is a book about taking control of a bad situation and that power doesn’t have to come from brute strength. And as much as this is a feminist commentary of how women are treated and the unfairness of the world, it doesn’t take itself too seriously. As much as this story deals with dark topics, there’s a light touch and humour to it.

Written with sharp and lyrical prose, Nettle and Bone had a lyricism I admire. Listening to it on audio absolutely got me feeling the moody tone and made me feel like I’d left our world behind. With a great performance from Amara Jasper, this is the kind of story that is meant to be heard. With its fairy tale vibes, it lent itself so well to this format.

Original and with great staying power, I can safely give this book my blessing. Especially since this book has a dog in it 😉 

Rating: 5/5 bananas

And that’s all for now! Have you read this beauty? Do you plan to? Let me know in the comments!

Monthly Monkey Mini Reviews – We’re in March 2023!

Hello all! Hope you all had a great month… I know I did with the love of my life Charlie Barley 😉

We’ve been getting out and about for lots of lovely walkies… when I’ve been well that is 😅 Sadly I’ve spent most of this month sick again, which really sucks, especially cos it means I don’t have so many books to share this month :/

And amazingly that didn’t result in me watching loads of TV- so I only have one show to talk about (but it’s a doozy)

Wednesday– woe is me that it took me so long to get to this! Woe is life that we have to wait so long for season two! This was quite simply a perfect show. With mystery, friendship, wonderful characterisation, a brilliant soundtrack and great cinematography- we were all spoilt with this hit of a show! I have nothing to say other than you *absolutely* need to watch this if you haven’t already!!

Forgotten Bookshop in Paris– I want to start this review with a true story. When I was very young, I met an elderly man in Yaffa, who had a shop filled with both Catholic and Jewish memorabilia. He told the story of how, as a teenager in France, the Nazis came to take him away. His mother told him to jump out the window and run. He made it to a church, where they hid him for the rest of the war. I can still remember how his eyes filled with tears as he said “I never saw my mother again”. My reason for sharing this story is simple: I don’t want it to be forgotten. Books like this, which talk of the occupation in France and deportation of French Jews, do an important job of conveying this memory. I could stop my own recollections resurfacing as I read this book. To its credit, the story had a strong sense of time and place. Though, admittedly, I was more invested in the modern characters in this dual timeline book. Still, I felt that the book felt very in touch with life and history.

Rating: 3½/5 bananas 

Mysterious case of the Alperton Angels– heavens above- Janice Hallet definitely knows how to write a damn good mystery! Made up of emails and texts, in a modern epistolary style, this delves into the grubby world of journalism and true crime. With characters who are consummate liars and subtlety deceptive, Hallet once more manages to strike the perfect balance between mystery and humour. While not necessarily having the best underlying  motive or twist, the story still manages to have a sensational ending worthy of the tabloids. More importantly, it leaves the reader with a moral choice: what is the right thing to do? A bit more far-fetched than other books, but I’m glad it didn’t slant (too much) into the fantastical. Definitely worth a shot for mystery lovers!

Rating: 4½/5 bananas 

Atheists Who Kneel and Pray– well I believe I may have read too many thrillers. Because I swear to any god who will listen that I spent this entire book waiting for the other shoe to drop. Maybe it’s me or maybe I simply have gotten over the whole “oh he’s stalked me to my place of work cos he fancies me, isn’t that cute?” Aside from her looks, there seemed to be no actual reason for the love interest to be downright obsessed with the main character. It was especially weird that she kept referring to herself as a muse when she was so goddamn empty inside. In fact, she went beyond being shallow to being a full-on narcissist. And this isn’t just me using the internet’s favourite buzzword- this was other characters in the book and glimpses of self-awareness from the protagonist herself. Because, as someone calling her out says:

“Even in the middle of hurting other people you’re focused on yourself”

I mean, yeah, narcissism seems a pretty apt description. Especially as she then throws herself a pity-party for treating everyone else like shit. In fact, the whole way through the book, she’s feeling sorry for herself and completely out of touch with other people’s emotional landscape. The closest she comes to empathy is when her boyfriend/husband/the-book’s-dull-as-dishwater-love-interest is depressed, she talks about banal things to make him feel better. Which is alright if you have an incredibly low bar for emotional support. I also felt like the book was clearly trying to manipulate me into rooting for her, with hints to her baggage from an averagely-bad childhood, troubled teens and an ongoing feud with an Other Woman trope (which frankly I was feeling over it from the second it started… forgive me for not loving girl-on-girl-hate). I also wasn’t massively into how choreographed the romance scenes were. All that said, this was far from the worst book I’ve read in a while and there were times when I really liked the writing style. I just didn’t think it was that good of a book. (But a great cover though).

Rating: 2½/5 bananas 

That’s all for now! Have you read any of these? What did you think of them? Let me know in the comments! And I hope you all had a good month!

Monthly Monkey Mini Reviews – Fun Times for February 2023!

Well not that fun for me, because I managed to get COVID again in January! Sooo not exactly the start to the year I had in mind! Still, there’s always movies and books to keep me going 😉

Rosaline– every so often a flawless rom com comes along- and this was one of those times! I fell head over heels for this Romeo and Juliet retelling. Sending up the most ridiculous elements of the play, it engages with the most famous critiques of the play (ie they don’t know each other, Romeo’s fickle, they’re both too young). And somehow, while we all know it has to end in tears, it manages to stay true to the opening tone, using a comedic style that really works. And, unlike the original, it has a romance that actually works 😉

Coco– oh gosh this was pitch perfect! I know, this is hardly a ground-breaking announcement but YOU HAVE TO SEE THIS FILM!! It’s a deeply meaningful movie about coming together as a family, the fickleness of fame and (of course) music! I loved how this didn’t just give a saccharine message about music saving your soul, showing instead how we can sometimes worship the wrong things and remember the wrong people (while the most important people are forgotten). A truly lovely animation.

When Women Were Dragons– I’m not gonna blow smoke up anyone’s arse- this book was a great big NOTHING. Spending (too many) pages slapping us round the face with a (bad) allegory, where the author imagines women take back their power and spontaneously transform into dragons. (A concept that admittedly sounds rather badass even if you haven’t drunk the Kool-Aid). Sadly, I spent the entire time wondering BUT WHERE IS THE PLOT??! I just wanted to know where it was going and found myself bored. Especially as the dragons don’t do much dragonish things (beyond the initial human bonfires). There’s no sitting on piles of treasure and kidnapping damsels (presumably male ones in the case of this book). They just kinda disappear and then *reappear*, whilst going about normal day-to-day things. It actually gets very campy, with dragons walking round 1950s America with handbags and heels. Which is still not as interesting as I’m making it sound. Just know that the author thinks all women are dragons and hates men and is an intersectional feminist- because the author sure as hell wants you to know that (as she tells her way to a very, very corny World Peace ending). Not trying to get all hot under the collar here- but this book really was not worth my time.

Rating: 2/5 bananas

Dead Romantics– I want to say right away that I was dead impressed with a lot of things in this book. And as long as I don’t think about it too much, a lot of the problems could remain unseen. So if you want to read a cute romance and not have me kill the fun, look away now… Because it is a flawed book. Unfortunately, there were far too many subplots smooshed together. So much so, the tone got lost and it didn’t quite work. I’m supposed to believe, for instance, this is happening in the immediate aftermath of a sudden death. And yet, it didn’t read like the heroine was struggling to come to terms with what would be fresh grief. It’s an oddly timed story where the main character is bouncing along with a ghost and trying to do some writing. Which was odd. That said, I wasn’t exactly haunted by these flaws. I felt like this is the kind of character who doesn’t know how to embrace gloomy, grim reality… and that made an odd sense. Sort of. Like I said: just don’t think about it.

Rating: 3½/5 bananas

Every Heart a Doorway– I really like the concept of exploring what happens when children come back from a portal fantasy world- which is why I have been dying to pick up the Wayward Children series for some time. I had heard it was flawed, but was curious about the unique worlds and writing style. And it didn’t disappoint in that respect- this certainly had unique world building. However, I didn’t feel like this delivered much in other areas. As much as it tries to distance itself from the Chronicles of Narnia (openly critiquing the use of Christian allegory), this read very much as a woke allegory. It didn’t feel like natural storytelling, but rather a forced message about fitting in and acceptance. With a murder mystery thrown in, because there was death in their worlds… I guess? I never entirely understood what that was doing there. A lot of things were never really explained (like why some people got to go back) while other things were over-explained (like how the worlds worked). Still, it was a reasonably short book and I got something out of it- I’m still not entirely sure what.

Rating: 3/5 bananas

Legends and Lattes– ahh this quiet book was a breath of fresh air. The concept follows fantasy characters happens after the adventure has finished… setting up their very own coffee shop! It’s as cosy and sweet as that sounds. With a side of yummy sounding treats and a sweet romance, this was a relaxing read that does what it says on the tin.

Rating: 4/5 bananas

Cursed– this suffers a little from the curse of the finale. While it had some really good twists and a lot of things I liked, it didn’t quite live up to the charm of Gilded. And while I did appreciate the way this continued the motif of storytelling, some parts felt a little contrived and forced. Ultimately though, it took me by surprise enough for me to get a fair amount of enjoyment out of it. It’s just a pity I can’t rave about this as much as I’d like- but I guess all that glitters is not gold 😉

Rating: 4/5 bananas

Daisy Darker– Alice Feeney often comes across as quite a contentious author- you either love her or hate her it seems. I for one absolutely adore her kooky, off-the-wall thrillers. I find in her mesmeric prose a deep sense of place and character. I have often been surprised by her peculiar twists- but I can’t deny they work (for me). With that being said, I wouldn’t blame anyone who thought the twist was a bit left of field. Without spoilers, I can say it’s one that I easily would’ve groaned at. I mean, it’s a little left of field and something that’s not entirely original. And yet, in the hands of this author it completely worked for me. I found myself flicking back through the pages for the clues I knew would be there, thinking “of course, how could I have missed that?” For me, it was a masterclass in suspense and warped storytelling. And I loved every second of it.

Rating: 5/5 bananas

Ten Thousand Stitches– here’s another Regency Faerie Tale that was a PURE DELIGHT! And this time, it plays into the concept of Cinderella, with the best faerie godfather that a maid could find. And while this Cinderella is giving and kind, she’s also angry and irritated (I mean, wouldn’t you be?) I loved the chuckle-inducing wit and wonderfully drawn characters. All of it is stitched together in a vibrant fantasy, with a brilliantly embroidered setting. With beautiful threads about humanity and the purpose of anger, once again Atwater proves she can add depth to her fantastical tales. I highly recommend this series if you haven’t checked it out yet!

Rating: 5/5 bananas

That’s all for now! Have you read any of these? What did you think of them? Let me know in the comments! And I hope you all had a good month!

Monthly Monkey Mini Reviews – January 2023

Hello all! HAPPY NEW YEAR!!! Here’s to a LOVELY 2023!

I’m feeling fresh and chill after all that SNOW last month!

Cannot believe it’s a new year!! Let’s hope it’s a brilliant time for books, blogging and entertainment! Are we all ready to rumble?! Cos I certainly am!

Do Revenge– well this was a bit of a mess- but an enjoyable mess nonetheless! I had a lot of fun with this chaotic revenge drama… as long as I didn’t think about it too much. The characters flipflop between being good and evil, likeable and unlikeable. And I liked going along for the ride- until of course it overdid it and accelerated right off the tracks. I don’t know what it is about movies like this going one twist too far- yet this very obviously had one (or two depending on your perspective) twist too far. Another massive downside was how keen this campy, absurd movie was to get THE MESSAGE across. I saw one review saying that the good thing about this movie was that it didn’t take itself too seriously- however I don’t think that’s true at all. I think the problem is it takes itself way too seriously. It was trying too hard to be a #MeToo story that it didn’t follow through with the twist. Instead, it went with the obvious villain and the supposed “girl power” ending that didn’t feel earned. Like I said, this is an enjoyable movie. Just don’t think about it too much.

Lore Olympus Volume 1-3– now here’s a classic case of too much of a good thing. I was super impressed by this modern graphic novel retelling of Hades and Persephone. In some ways it wasn’t true to the original- yet the elements that were transformed would work much better for a modern audience. It was sensitive and the poetic licence was intelligently done. Plus, the plates in this book were utterly gorgeous. HOWEVER, this does take slow burn to a whole other level. As much as I liked these books, I don’t feel like finishing this series, because it quite simply doesn’t go anywhere. I would’ve thought after 3 volumes there would be more to the plot than this. So it’s an impressive feat and worth a go- but ye gods wrap it up already!

Rating: 4/5 bananas

The Boyfriend– there’s no way around it- this just was not a great book. There were easily better twists available than the *spoiler alert* boyfriend being a secret sociopath after her money. Now that I’ve told you the ending, I’ll tell you the beginning: it’s about a woman who has forgotten the last 3 months of her life and her new boyfriend (who it transpires she made up). Given that the main character had amnesia, she could’ve asked this guy to play her boyfriend for money. Or she could’ve been the sociopath. Or really anything other than the obvious and boring af answer. Sadly, this book ended up being completely forgettable. All I can say to this book is: it’s not me, it’s you.

Rating:2/5 bananas

London’s Number 1 Dog Walking Agency– this book had me bouncing around with joy! Witty and full of fun doggy characters, it had me barking out laughter left right and centre! I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know the personalities in this non fic book (both human and doggy). There were some lovely, memorable moments (some that even made me tear up). And while this book is obviously for dog-people, I’d also say that it can win over even the surliest of dog-detractors (just as the book proves that a dog can eventually win over any person when they set their mind to it 😉)

Rating: 4/5 bananas

Diamond Eye– I don’t want to be too hard on this book, so I will say straight away that there were a lot of things I liked about it. There was some sharp characterisation and a strong sense of setting. Once again, Quinn proved she could bring a historical landscape to life. This time it is Kyiv during WW2- which absolutely makes for explosive drama. The disappointing thing about this book is that it doesn’t stay in wartime Kyiv. Instead, we are sent flitting off to the United States for an assassination attempt that (spoiler alert) never happened (but is that really a spoiler alert given we all know it didn’t happen?!) Personally, I prefer smaller scale stories, where you get down in the dirt with people trying to survive. Once you start bringing in real history, real people and real events… well then you lose me. Because there’s no point (in my mind) to creating a drama around an event where we all know the outcome. The stakes are so incredibly low because we know what’s going to happen from the start. So having this very uninteresting non-event be the climax of the book simply wasn’t exciting for me. Still, as much as I lost my patience by the end, I did get swept along with the story for most of it.

Rating: 3½/5 bananas

Half a Soul– sweetly romantic, this regency faerie tale was exactly what I could’ve wished for. Without being smutty or corny, it takes the historical landscape and sprinkles a pinch of magic to transform it into a delightful read. Not only did I love the characters and the story, but I also really admired how the faerie land was styled. It was faintly ridiculous, with an air of Wonderland. A quirky and dangerous place that captured my imagination. I highly recommend this if you’re looking for fantasy romance (and aren’t remotely impressed by the usual faerie love stories flying around these days).

Rating: 5/5 bananas

That’s all for now! Have you read any of these? What did you think of them? Let me know in the comments! And I hope you all had a good month!

Schooling Lessons in Chemistry

Oh dear, I think I’m going to have to be that person dumping on a popular book again. Unfortunately, Lessons in Chemistry really tried my patience- particularly after I waited 6 months for the reserve to come through- so I guess you’ll all have to sit through my lecture 😉   

Fundamentally, I’d say this book’s biggest problem is that it’s a bit precious. In many ways, it reminded me of Love on the Brain- minus the fun. The author has a MESSAGE and she won’t let you go until she’s rapped you over the head with it. She may as well have forced us all to write lines: the past was patriarchal, the past was patriarchal, the past was patriarchal… ad infinitum.

Except so much of this felt like tampering with history and had a peculiar sense of unreality. Not only is it written with such contempt for a world that is long gone, it also features a modern character masquerading as a woman from the fifties. She’s a woman out of time in such a way she doesn’t seem to fit the time period at all- which made me wonder why it was set in the past to begin with. The aesthetic of the 50s barely exists as window dressing.

Add to that the fact that much about Elizabeth is unlikeable and I had a real problem. Especially since I was clearly meant to root for her. We are supposed to take her quirks and unsociability as endearing and a sign of her perfection. She’s way ahead of her time (about 50 years or so) and loves making sure everyone else knows it (even if that means insulting any woman who finds pleasure in being a housewife). I think the idea was to have her be a static character, with everyone around her changing for the better… except she’s no Paddington bear and instead comes across as somewhat insufferable.

Aside from that, the general tone of preachiness began to grate on my nerves. There was a sense of female superiority, with lines like “marriage counsellors would go out of business if men just listened to women”. I also wasn’t impressed with the delusion that men and women are the same physically, so no need to separate for sports teams! I shouldn’t need to give a so-called science inspired book a lesson in biology (or common sense for that matter). If you’ve ever trained with a man, you’ll know this isn’t the case. I just don’t get why this book has embraced this idea- if it’s supposed to be feminist, then why must it go with the implication that the only way to be a successful woman is to be a man?! This coupled with the nausea for stereotypically female pursuits makes it seem like a book that doesn’t care for the feminine at all.

The plot was… middling. I found some parts cliché and designed to manipulate an emotional response (without actually managing it). That said, I was satisfied with how everything came together and even somewhat impressed by the ending.

All in all, this wasn’t the worst book in the world, it just lacked a certain pizzazz I’d expect from this kind of bestseller. Still, what makes me wonder about this book is how on earth has it been a massive success?!? Because every single person I talk to about it found it simply average. Yet the reviews seem positive online and it’s literally ***everywhere***. This really felt manufactured as a popular book- it certainly didn’t get to these heights organically. It’s very much a case of success breeding success- everyone is advertising it, so everyone reads it, so it gets more advertisement etc etc etc. I just don’t get why. One can only assume it’s because THE MESSAGE is on point for the publishing industry. And that’s a lesson for us all.

Rating: 3/5 bananas

So, have you read this bestseller? Did you get the hype? Let me know in the comments!

Monthly Monkey Mini Reviews – Delighted it’s December 2022!

Hello all! Hope you’re all starting to feel festive… I know I am!

Now that we’re all warmed up, we can get cosy talking about the books I read last month… which isn’t that many since I had a bit of a slumpy month. Oh well, there were still some gems in there! Starting with…

Toymakers– ah here was a delightfully crafted fairytale-esque fantasy. Set in a magical toyshop, from the 20s and beyond, this tells the story of a young runaway and the family (and enemies!) she finds within the shop walls. As it transpires, there is a whole world secreted away in the heart of London, holding mysteries and mischief and a smidgen of mayhem in store. Like a Russian doll, this was full of hidden histories and stories within stories, tucked within the plot. These links with real world events brought the tale to life and made for a more powerful narrative. This isn’t a story of a children’s game after all- but the very real tragedy of world wars and man’s inhumanity to man. At the same time, it is a delightful parable of invention and being different and the enchantment of being different. So gloriously written it made me hold my breath at times, it truly transported me back to the wonder of childhood, seeing magic in all the little places. A little overlong, yet the charm was enough to hold my attention to the end. Just perfect for first frost!

Rating: 4½/5 bananas

Psychopaths Anonymous– a tongue in cheek take on what it’s like to be inside the head of a psychopathic killer, this was remarkably fun considering the subject matter. It definitely doesn’t take itself too seriously… which is why it works! I will say this is largely character-driven, with the plot happening much later into the book, but when the plot is directed by a murderer it’s at least eventful enough to keep interest. Admittedly, I did have to suspend my disbelief when it came to said murders, since I felt like there were SO MANY times she would have been caught (there are cameras everywhere! And witnesses!) I also found parts a tad repetitive and it’s a struggle to care for people who do not care themselves! That said, I had a (surprisingly) enjoyable time with this. If you’re a fan of thrillers, I think you’d be crazy not to try it 😉

Rating: 4/5 bananas

The Book Eaters– well this filled a craving I didn’t know I had. As much as I normally shy away from fantasy that verges on horror, I’m glad this book caught me in its snare. A monstrous, inventive and twisty debut that gobbled me up and swallowed me whole. I felt submerged in its dark and disturbing world. I was taken in by this story of how love makes monsters of us all. I devoured every page with relish.

Rating: 4/5 bananas

Kingdom of the Feared– moving onto the frightfully disappointing 😉 This has been an interesting series for me. I loved the first book, but the second book left me unconvinced about the new direction it was headed. Sadly, my fears were well-founded. I was left disappointed with a lot of decisions with this book. While I liked the fiery fury and there were some cool new elements, I this was a bit of damp ending to a promising idea. Like a TV show that keeps raising the stakes (now there are goddesses! And the devil! Oh my!) I missed the earlier simplicity of the story that appealed to me in the first place. It basically dismantled the original concept in favour of the NEW and SPECTACULAR (that didn’t seem quite so spectacular to me). And, as much as it tried to return to the concept of a murder mystery, it was hard (if not impossible) to be invested in a character who wasn’t in the previous books and had so little bearing on the current plot. I found so much of it anti-climactic and a little cliché. Plus, the marital drama and erotic scenes made it feel far from its YA origins. I seriously question how much a 14-year-old would relate to this?! Having discussions with parents and teens in person, it doesn’t seem like it. It seems like yet another miss-marketed adult fantasy. Now, after all my moaning, I have to admit this wasn’t a terrible book. Just not one that was worthy of its promise.

Rating: 3/5 bananas

Wolfsong– I was also expecting this to be a howling success- but sadly it left me feeling a little grizzly. As much as I enjoy Klune’s style, I couldn’t get over the romance centring on a TEN-YEAR-OLD CHILD mating with an adult. It seemed like the author took all the wrong inspiration from Breaking Dawn. This book just gave me the icks way too often. I don’t need to read some weird, overlong sex fantasy.

Rating 2½/5 bananas

The Escape Artist: The Man Who Broke Out of Auschwitz to Warn the World– finally, I finished off the month with a tough book to read, yet a necessary one. Advertised as a thriller, I still had to read it in small increments, because the subject matter is so heavy. A forgotten history that seems to have been ignored due to the uncomfortable questions it raised, this was no easy read. What struck me most was how, even after the escape, it was so difficult to actually do anything about the mass murder of Jews. The warning signs were there and the alarm bells were rung- but no one listened before it was too late. It’s a terrible indictment against humanity and makes me think about the atrocities currently happening around the world that people are turning a blind eye to.

Rating: 4/5 bananas

That’s all for now! Have you read any of these? What did you think of them? Let me know in the comments!

Hope you all had a good month and enjoy the upcoming holidays!

The Constant Princess Gave Me A Constant Headache

Oh dear. I’ve done it again. I picked up a Philippa Gregory “historical” novel and only have myself to blame for reading it.

As usual, Gregory’s gifted us with a book that’s historical nonsense (unless you count being based on an account from the 1960s as accurate). Other than having a hilariously bad scene where Catherine of Aragorn craves “salad”, Gregory decided to make her first marriage to Arthur far more significant. Which could have been potentially interesting- except that it muddied her motivations and was poorly executed. In attempt to make things interesting, Gregory decided to shorten the lifespan of an already short-lived romance by squeezing in a badly done enemies-to-lovers subplot. Since they are only together for such a short time, it’s hard to be invested in this supposedly great love affair that overshadows the rest of Catherine’s life. It’s even more daft that this motivates her want to be queen, because Arthur’s dying wish is for her to marry his 10-year-old brother?! Aside from how unbelievable this all is, it actually takes away the sting of Henry’s later betrayal, since it’s repeatedly made clear she never loved him anyway and was only using him to be queen. It would have been far more powerful for her to be telling the truth- but then we wouldn’t have had a trademark terrible heroine to despise throughout the course of the book.

Of course, this is only the tip of the iceberg in terms of how *utterly awful* Catherine is as a character. I’m not saying the historical figure was particularly likeable, but jeez. When she’s not praying to her lost love for guidance, she’s harping on about how she deserves power because it’s “god’s will”. There’s no actual reason beyond that, no depth and nothing to root for. She is simply a power hungry, warmongering coloniser with an appetite for spilling Moorish blood.

Which, incidentally, brings me to Gregory’s brand of feminism: the kind where the best kind of woman is the worst kind of man. To use the woke phrase, as it’s rather fitting for a change, all she displays is toxic masculinity. Catherine is a meddlesome bore begging for holy wars, with a violent streak a mile long, seeking to dominate anyone and everyone. There is not a single trait that makes her likeable. It’s astounding to me that Mantell could take a historical figure like Cromwell and make you love him- and yet Gregory could do the inverse to Catherine of Aragorn (but then Gregory is no Mantell).

If all this isn’t enough to put you off, there’s also the problem of the plot being all over the place. Again, to use an unfavourable comparison, Mantell managed to beautifully craft a story that spanned decades, cleverly building to a deliciously clever destination. With this, you get a plot that’s got no focus, feels disjointed and fails to come together. This book manages to make one of the most famous divorces of all time duller than dishwater. It’s a sloppy structure not worthy of the story it’s telling.  

And naturally there’s also some vomit-inducing scenes with the king lusting after his daughter-in-law. Because this is history with the icky bits added in. Whatever would make the grossest version of events has to be there- this is a Philippa Gregory book after all. 

It’s no wonder Gregory put me off historical fic for so long. I don’t know why she has it in for history and must make up the worst possible versions of it- but there you go. This was not remotely enjoyable- but on the plus side it’s not her worst book- and that’s saying something!

Rating: 1/5 bananas 

Oof- dare I ask- have you read this book? Did you like it? Were you as bored as me? Let me know in the comments!

Monthly Monkey Mini Reviews – Now it’s November 2022!?

OOF- where has this year gone?! Being an adult is kinda hard, so I went to a Sasha Sloan concert and at least I look cool now 😉

Hope everyone had an excellent Spooktober! My sister threw a Descendants themed party- so you know I had a great time 😉

Speaking of creepy, this was largely a month filled with thrillers, with a handful of romance thrown in to keep things spicy!

The Getaway– I was reasonably surprised that I enjoyed this- even though I’ve been looking for a book like this for quite some time! It’s an isolated thriller, set on an island, where the (mostly wealthy) guests are killed off one by one… What’s not to like? Aside from having an entertaining premise, the characters are intriguingly well drawn, with plenty of secrets up their sleeves. The best part of this book for me was the fact it had a Rupert Murdoch stand in- because seeing the media mogul in an “And Then There Were None” style thriller was exactly what I needed.

Rating: 4/5 bananas

Love on the Brain– this made me remarkably happy- even if it wasn’t the smartest book I’ve ever read. For one thing, it’s not a very good version of the enemies-to-lovers trope, since it solely relies on miscommunication to pull it off. In fact, it relies on miscommunication for way too much of the book. Plus, it had some ridiculously woke views that made very little sense even by woke standards (I don’t know who decided that it’s okay to decide women and minorities are bad at taking tests and so shouldn’t have to do them… but it comes across as pretty offensive to me and an amazingly bad take). Even funnier was the fact the main character had an AOC t-shirt (never understood why anyone would stan a politician- but o-kay). Also, it’s bizarre to forgive someone who slept with your fiancé because she told you it came from a place of jealously- hOW iS ThAT An ExCuSE?!? Oh dear- I’m making this sound like I didn’t like it. Still, I swear there were plenty of good parts! The humour was on point for one! And I loved how she slowly realised how much in common they had. Finally, huge bonus points for not being Kylo Ren fanfic 😉 It’s a flawed book- but I did have a good time with it.

Rating: 4/5 bananas

Verity– well, it’s quite hilarious to me that I found Hoover makes a far better thriller writer than a romance writer. I guess it tells you something about how scary I find her idea of a love story 😉 Following a desperately broke ghostwriter and her job to finish a bedbound (and potentially insane) famous author’s series, this mind-bending thriller will absolutely get inside your head and make you question everything. In fact, I’m still asking questions long after I finished it- which is the sign of a great read. While I guessed some of the twists, I never could’ve figured out the reasons behind them. Other than being a little dark for my taste, it was the perfect thriller.

Rating: 4½/5 bananas  

Deadly Waters– so, this twisted Me-Too thriller started off swimmingly, then it sank below my estimation. The idea of a girl killing off rapey and gross frat boys by feeding them to crocodiles was too juicy for me to pass off. The only trouble was the overlong writing and repetitive preachiness meant it just wasn’t snappy enough to keep up the excitement of the premise. There were some great moments (and I particularly liked the satirical edge to the patronising uni’s response “be careful of crocodiles”). Unfortunately, the author seemed to think we wouldn’t get the message if she didn’t beat us over the head with it. I struggled to return to this book after a while. So, see you later alligator, this book was just an average read.

Rating: 3/5 bananas

Dark Objects– here’s a solid mystery, with well-drawn characters and an excellent final twist. This follows a professor of crime scenes who only ever works on cold cases… being drawn into a live case and finding herself embroiled in the outcome. There’s some atmospheric writing, good attention to detail and a killer plot. I thoroughly enjoyed figuring out bits and pieces along the way. Sadly, the author couldn’t pass up a few opportunities to moralise and throw in some random plot points (minor spoiler: I’m really not sure why the author wanted to have the aside of the teenage daughter attempting suicide… I feel like it was just to keep the audience on their toes and because it’s topical? But I feel like it’s a serious enough topic not to be an aside in a book like this). Otherwise, it was a very satisfying read, with an outcome that actually makes sense!

Rating: 4/5 bananas

Ballad of Never After– ahh this was precisely what I needed!! A fun, frothy, fantasy romance, this sequel is packed with romance and curses and tricksy characters! I just loved where Garber is taking this series, introducing more mysteries and some background myths. I was definitely along for the ride as this took some unexpected turns and didn’t end up where I expected. The only downside I’m finding to this series is that I’m enjoying it too much to take notes!

Rating: 5/5 bananas

The Bullet That Missed– Osman returned to form with this third book in the Thursday Murder Club series. While I did enjoy the sequel, I personally found this one far superior, with new characters to grow attached to and the most substantial mystery yet. I loved how this explored even more of the former spy aspect- especially the links it had to spying on the Soviets. There was something so unexpected and heartwarming in that subplot that it made the book all the more joyous for me! And best of all, I really appreciated the double meaning to the title… which I won’t reveal to you, you’ll have to read it for yourself!

Rating: 5/5 bananas

That’s all for now! Have you read any of these? What did you think of them? Let me know in the comments! And I hope you all had a good month!

Princess of souls had some spirit!

***Received from Netgalley in exchange for review, but I will be as transparent as always***

After the towering success of to kill a kingdom, I foresaw I would fall for a Rupunzel retelling by the same author.

Loosely inspired by said fairy tale, this ensnared some of my interest, but did not quite capture my heart the way I had hoped. 

The thorny matter is that the characterisation was frankly not as cutthroat as her little mermaid counterpart. Instead, we were gifted a rather pleasant heroine, which made her, well, a bit boring. Even though she too was a witch, I rather felt her thunder was stolen by more intriguing villains. 

That said, I was impressed with the world building. Bold and richly devised, it sprung up in my imagination as a verdant creation. I thoroughly enjoyed being swept away to this tricksy land. 

I also found the plot fun. Though I wasn’t sold on the enemies to lovers aspect and wasn’t invested in the characters to love their romance, I did find myself swept up in the action. Pulled along by the powerful prose, I was unable to tear myself away from the book for long. 

Ultimately, this was a rather unique retelling, full of witches and ghoulies and all things foul (ie a light selection from spooky season 😉) yet not the most memorable read. 

Rating: 3½/5 bananas   

And that’s all for now! Have you read this? Are you planning to? Let me know in the comments!